Sunday, July 10, 2016

Strongly Held Opinions Rarely Lead To Positive Solutions


My friend Kevin recently shared some of his thoughts on the several tragic deaths we've all witnessed in the past week. You can read it here.
More than anyone else I know, Kevin has earned the right to speak into these difficult days. He has poured his life into the ministry of racial reconciliation and he demonstrates Christ's love in difficult situations better than anyone I know. He converses truthfully and graciously even when he disagrees. He is an elder in his church and his organization, Pursue Scholars, is doing amazing things to provide opportunities for young people (I support this organization and highly recommend it. Click here to learn how you can give)
Kevin is spot on when he writes:
Stop believing the narrative that says if you are against one thing that you also can’t be against something else... Stop letting people tell you that you can’t be both. Stop being boxed into what Fox News or MSNBC or Franklin Graham or Jesse Jackson tells you is the only opinion you can have. Until we become people who are more nuanced and thoughtful, we will continue to talk at each other and refuse to listen to each other.
Kevin's point is one that has been voiced by many in recent days. I think it's worth hearing. We don't need to pick one side or the other, in fact we don't need to "pick a side" at all. I want to add on to Kevin's thoughts by putting some feet on the ideas he's proposed. If I truly want to see all sides, I have to think about how my behavior changes and how my words change.

Nothing Good Happens When We Assume

If I support law enforcement AND I am opposed to police officers who abuse their authority than I must not rush to conclusions and there is no need for me to assign fault or blame every time I hear about another tragic confrontation.
Every time I hear about a confrontation that ended poorly, I cannot immediate assume the police officer was justified in his behavior.
AND
Every time a video surfaces of a police shooting, I cannot assume the police officer's actions were motivated by racism.
In fact, why do I need to assume at all?

Can You Refrain from Social Media?

Let me make a suggestion (this isn't something I've done, but I am going to try to make this my new practice)?
What if we all waited a week to voice our opinion the next time there is a public tragedy. 
Can you distinguish the difference between talking about something and sharing your opinion about it? This is really important!
These People Are Not Interested In Helping You Or Anyone
Instead of letting the the media cram an unhelpful conversation down our throat, let's follow James' advice to be slow to speak and quick to listen. Go ahead and express your grief. Express your condolences. But refrain from the temptation to assign fault or even to explain the reason these things happen.
Conversations are good and they can be helpful, but perhaps they would be more healthy and more productive if they happened after we've processed the grief and sorrow and after we've had a chance to better understand what actually happened.

Find A Friend and Talk To Them

Soon it will be a week since the Dallas shooting (as well as the shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota, Tennesee and Missouri). Find someone who comes from a different background than you or someone that you know has a different political bent than you. Buy them coffee and have a conversation. Don't seek to change each other's minds. Instead, search out the truths upon which you can both agree and then decide what you can each do as a result of that agreement.
You won't solve the world's problems, but maybe you can identify your next step.

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